A mobility shop in Honiton, East Devon, has been forced to close just three years after opening due to what has been described as mounting financial pressures and a lack of enough business to justify continuing.
TRIP, a transport charity which ran the outlet, decided to close the outlet selling a variety of mobility aids including scooters, so that it could keep the costs of its operations low and stay serving its community in other ways.
“We are pulling out of the shop because we have not done enough business to encourage keeping it,” Neil Hurlock, manager of TRIP, told a local newspaper.
“With the added complications of losing NHS funding and upcoming consultation for Section 19 and 22 permits [under the Transport Act 1985], we decided we would have to tighten our belts for a while.”
The charity lost 15% of its annual income last year when its role as a transport booking agency for elderly and disabled people was axed. Local NHS trusts and CCGs decided that they would cover the transport advice service instead, rather than outsourcing to the charity, according to the Herald.
Earlier this year, TRIP was dealt another blow when the Department for Transport (DfT) revealed that it is set to consult on legislation changes for anyone using a Section 19 permit under the Transport Act 1985.
TRIP operates all of its accessible vehicles under the permit, which allows not-for-profit organisations to offer transport services at reduced prices.
The DfT said that an operator that runs like a bus company, paying drivers and competing for contracts, cannot be regarded as operating for non-commercial purposes.
This could force TRIP to reconsider how to operates if it wants to continue commercial work.
Since closing the shop TRIP’s offices have been reorganised to retain items it can sell. The closed outlet is now up for sale through a local estate agent.
Hurlock added: “Our ultimate responsibility is to our service users, so we are cutting back where necessary to make sure our Ring and Rider and voluntary car services, which so many people use, can continue to operate.”